The Setara Institute said the so-called Muslim Cyber Army, which has allegedly been responsible for spreading fake news and hate speech on social media, is more harmful than other similar organizations in the country. (Antara Photo/Adeng Bustomi)
'Muslim Cyber Army' More Harmful Than Saracen, Human Rights Group Says
MARCH 02, 2018
Jakarta. A human rights group said the so-called Muslim Cyber Army, which has allegedly been responsible for spreading fake news and hate speech on social media, is more harmful than other similar organizations in the country and called on the National Police to track down intellectuals behind the group.
Police have arrested six suspected members of the group in different parts of Indonesia over the past week. The suspects include a female part-time lecturer at a university in Yogyakarta.
Hendardi, chairman of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute, said in a statement on Thursday (01/03) that the arrests have confirmed that the recent spread of fake news and hate speech had been "by design," and that it was produced and distributed by a specific group with a specific purpose.
"The [National Police's] cybercrime directorate must be able to track down the intellectuals behind the MCA to protect the public from fake news and hatred," Hendardi said.
He added that the police must also conduct a thorough investigation to identify the group's networks, advocates and the consumers of the fake news.
Hendardi also touched on how the MCA differs from Saracen, an online syndicate, which he said had more of a clear structure and a strong economic motive.
In contrast, the MCA is more ideological, comprised of subgroups with members across Indonesia and more fluid organizational ties.
"As a result, this group is more harmful compared with Saracen," Hendardi said.
Last year, police arrested several suspected members and financiers of Saracen, which is believed to have been propagating hate speech based on ethnicity and religion.
People Must Act
"Ordinary citizens must also play a role in quelling such groups by actively reporting those who regularly share fake news content and hate speech," Hendardi said in a statement.
He warned that this type of content is not only present on the internet, but often wrapped as a moral message disseminated from religious platforms.
Hendardi said in view of the upcoming regional and general elections, it is necessary to have a united public and political space free from disruption.
"Therefore, we need public synergy and participation," he said.